Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ohio joins movement to take back Christianity

[revised 4:30 pm]

By Diane Silver

Moderate and progressive clergy in Ohio are the latest to join a growing national movement of people of faith who are standing up to the religious right.

The new organization is called We Believe Ohio, and it has drawn 300 religious leaders.

Rev. Timothy Ahrens, senior minister at The First Congregational Church in Columbus, told Reuters:
"At our opening meeting, pastor after pastor said they have members ... who won't even tell people they are Christian any more, because Christian is such a dirty word."
The group's goal is to get voters to the polls and to "convince mainstream voters that Christians care about more than banning gay marriage and abortion and restoring school prayer."

We Believe Ohio is just the latest group of clergy and lay people to be formed. In Kansas, Mainstream Voices of Faith was launched this year with a similar mission.

So far the news media have downplayed the birth of these groups. Take a close look at the Reuters story for a complete display of the arguments about how this new movment is and will always be toothless.

However, I believe the mainstream media is missing the story. It's true that no new political organization can have the impact of a longterm group. Organizing takes time and the religious right's twenty-some year lead is substantial.

I remember the birth pains of the religious right, though. I was a member of the Statehouse press corps in Kansas for some of that period. I vividly remember how reporters and the moderate Republican leadership laughed at the social conservatives. They were nutcases, we thought. They'd never have any power.

Today, they control the state GOP and much of state government, not to mention the White House, all of Congress and an increasing proportion of the judiciary.

My advice to the pundits and the reporters: Don't judge too soon.

The true test of any new movement is not what happens today, but what will happen tomorrow, at the November election and in the next five, 10 and 20 years.

The simple fact that these kinds of groups are popping up all over the country, often in the most religious areas of the nation, is more than just noteworthy.

Living out here in Kansas, I sense that many people -- particularly people of faith -- are mad as h*ll at the religious right, and they're not going to take it anymore.

That kind of emotion can fuel miracles.

Hat tip to Red State Rabble for pointing me toward the story.

More o f my blogging on Mainstream Voices of Faith can be found here and here.

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